Our Cozy Little Christmas

Snow

The view from our house Monday morning–halfway through the blizzard,


One of the odd parts about being a clergy family is holidays. While the rest of the world seems to be heading out on exciting vacations,or visiting far-flung relatives, our family is tied to the church. Don’t get me wrong, I love our family and the traditions we have formed over the years, but there is always a little bit of a tug–a what if. 

This year was already shaping up to be different. With both Christmas and New Years Day falling on Sundays, I was guaranteed two four-day weekends off from work–and so, I decided to take the middle days off as well, netting me over a week of vacation time. I was picturing days of blissfully crocheting. I even brought home some books from work–a bit of continuing ed, if you wish.

I no sooner got home on Thursday night that the wether reports were becoming more and more dire. we were going to have a blizzard of epic proportions–on Christmas. It would be our third blizzard in as many weeks. We were not even sure if we would be able to hold Christmas Day services at church. I spent Friday–along with all of Bismarck–at Target, stocking up on essentials, and junk food, and festive food, and extra milk–just in case. 

And then we waited. And waited. And waited. I was certain we would wake up to a new blanket of snow on Christmas morning–but instead, the sun shone brightly–so off to church we went. It was a lovely service that we enjoyed–and we also enjoyed watching our anxious children squirm in anticipation of the gift opening that would follow church. On our way home it began raining and sleeting, but no snow. 

By 1 PM, our promised snow began–and continued to fall and blow for about 24 hours straight. We were officially snowed in. As a mom to six, I was delighted! it was the best Christmas gift I could ever ask for! Just our little family of eight, all home alone–with no outside distractions or work or coming and going for three whole days. 

Perhaps the teens would argue that it was too much togetherness–but for me–it was perfect! 

By Thursday our road was finally plowed, and I was ready to go into town again. 

And now on New Year’s Day, guess what we are watching for? You guessed it! Another storm! I’m not sure where we will put all of this snow, but I must say, I LOVE this! I feel like I live in a lovely snow globe, and I am enjoying every minute of togetherness with the ones I love most!

Looking Back–Looking Ahead

It is amazing to see how far this little space has come. When I began blogging, I was a homeschooling mom of 4. Now I am a working mom of 6-but with one of those six fully-grown and another who will reach adulthood this coming year. 

Navigating the changes of motherhood is rewarding, challenging, and sometimes, downright scary. And yet, through it, I have had this space to hash things out, get advice, and share some of my joys and burdens with you. And for that, I am forever thankful. 

And because of that, I resolve to nurture this place a little more. This space,  that has given me so much (including lasting friendships), deserves some more of my time. 

Here is some of what I hope to share with you all in the coming year:

  1. More Working Mom Wisdom and #MomWin Wednesdays.  We moms need to celebrate our successeses, and the joys and obstacles of the modern working mom are still some things I am working through in my brain. 
  2. I want to share more of my crocheting with you. It has been one of the most fun changes in my life in 2016. Through some yarn and hooks, I feel connected to my childhood with my grandma, I work through stress, and create beautiful things for friends and family. If all goes well, perhaps a Dakotapam Etsy shop may be in the works.
  3. Homemaking Tips–21 years of marriage in, and I’m still learning, but I have picked up a few helpful things along the way (hint–less stuff is a GREAT starting point!)
  4. More Cooking for 8! Keeping my growing family well fed has always been a kind of fun challenge. I tend to strike a balance between from-scratch and convenience foods, and sometimes, for fun, I just cook from a box–sadly, these meals are a HUGE hit–likely due to the novelty factor. 
  5. I hope to share a book a month with you–some fun, some meaty, and some for the kiddos! I love to read–but my crocheting tends to get in the way! I hope to use YOU as my motivation. 

Mostly, I just want to spend more time with you, and I hope you are all up for coming along for the ride. Please feel free to share those things that you find helpful–I love making new friends too!  And please, don’t be a stranger in the comment section! I love to hear from you all! 

And now, a quick question for you: What do YOU want to see more of in this space? Leave me a comment or pop over to our Facebook page to let me know!

Book Review: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book, and a Proctor and Gamble Swiffer gift box in order to facilitate my review. I received no their compensation and I was not required to give a list I’ve review. All opinions are my own. 

Confession time: I’m a “Messy”. My husband sometimes uses the word, slob. Sometimes that hurts my feelings.

I’m actually quite an organized person. However, I’m a creative person, so my “organized” looks very diffferent from yours.

The book I’m reviewing today is for people like me. If you have a dedicated system of cleaning your house and your bullet journal is full of daily, weekly, and monthly housekeeping tasks that get regularly checked off–this book is not for you. If your mother-in-law smiles approvingly when she enters your impeccably tidy kitchen–this book is not for you.

If you regularly are hunting for a pair of clean socks for your first grader and your third grader is wearing the dog’s hat–this book is for you. If you have considered paying a neighbor teen to spend a day washing your dishes–this book is for you.

Dana White, AKA Nony the Slob, has been, and still is in your shoes. I have been a reader of A Slob Comes Clean for several years now. Every post that Dana writes leaves me nodding my head and realizing that she writes to a very interesting and needy niche–moms who WANT a clean home, but who also get overwhelmed with the thought of getting it–and keeping it– clean.

So, then, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind is full of funny, witty, practical wisdom. This meaty (221 pages) book is divided into four sections: I. Reality Check–in which White outlines how your house got to be the way it is. II. (My favorite) Daily Stuff: The Down and Dirty Truth About a Clean House (which includes two whole chapters on my nemesis–laundry!). III. Decluttering: The Down and dirty Truth About All Your Stuff (spoiler alert–decluttering is not a one-off event!) IV. Change that Lasts (because shouldn’t that be our goal?)

One of my very favorite parts of this book is the appendix–it includes the previously released as a stand-alone eBook “28 Days to Hope For Your Home”. I purchased this year ago, and it is really amazing, even in its simplicity. I even give you permission to skip to the appendix, work through the 28 days and then come back and read the book. The 28 days will help form some pretty powerful (and simple) habits the may just jump-start your hopeful mindset.

Honestly, what I love about this book, and some of the downright common sense simplicity found inside, is that Dana White is not a cleaning or organization expert. She is a real mom. A real mom who is struggling just like you to keep afloat. And the message of the book is–yes, there IS hope for your home. It is just going to take work, determination and HABIT!

This book gets my hearty recommendation–and makes it totally worth you reading my confession up above. And yes, this book HAS made a difference in our home. I still have some habits and spaces to tame, bu things are a lot less overwhelming now–even laundry!!!

Proctor and Gamble sent me this box full of Swiffer supplies to help me along on my de-slobbification journey!

Buy it: How To Manage your Home Without Losing your Mind is available on Amazon! (Aff link).

Chime in: What is the most overwhelming part of your homemaking? Leave a comment here or on the Facebook page!

#MomWin Wednesday 

Being a mom is tough, and being a working mom is fraught with guilt. However, I think if we learn to celebrate our #MomWins, we will start to see the wonder in our ordinary, everyday lives. So, Moms, I invite you to connect and share your #MomWins here in the comments, over on the Facebook page, or on Instagram.

I’ll start:

  •  #MomWin–I rounded up all of the twins’ winter gear BEFORE the first snowfall.
  • #Momwin– I remembered to put the rotisserie chicken bones from last night into the slow cooker this morning. Dinner was a quick pot of chicken noodle soup after work. #nofastfood
  • #Momwin–teenager hugs (forced or not).

So, what are your #MomWins? I can’t wait to hear yours!

Outsourcing my Stress with Grove Collaborative (and FREE Mrs. Meyers Holiday Gift!)

This is my busiest time of the year at work. My job requires that I organize two MAJOR fundraisers a year, and since one is a Holiday Home tour and one is a Thanksgiving Day footrace, both occur within two weeks of each other! I spent the last weekend in Fargo for the home tour (and it was GORGEOUS!) and next week is Thanksgiving! Eek!

Even though I am busy at work, my job at home does not end. My family depends on me to plan meals, keep things running, and even keep things clean. The older kids are older and able to pitch-in more, but they are also older, and are busier with work and school activities–so I can’t lean on them as much as I would like to.

BUT, I am  a super-smart Mom-Boss! I know that in times of stress, some things can be let go–who needs matching socks, anyway? Not me! Sometimes, I grab a few rotisserie chickens from the grocery store on the way home and call that dinner. We all survive-and really, who needs a mashed potato side dish?

I try to keep a load of laundry swishing. I insist that the big kids keep up on dishes. I harp on the littles to pick up as they go. I sing the praises of grocery delivery. And, best of all–I outsource some of my shopping.

Let’s face it- NO ONE wants to run out of toilet paper, or dish soap, or hand soap, or eye cream (horrors!), or even toilet bowl cleaner (we all need it–no one wants to have to use it!)

I found that I was spending most of my lunch hours running around picking up various household supplies. And I’m picky. Appearance matters, scent matters, and my husband does not want to run around looking for my nit-picky requests (I actually picked nits earlier this year–let’s not have that again–ok?).

I’ve learned that Grove Collaborative carries all of my very favorite household supplies–at a great price to boot! I set up my shopping cart, choose my favorite products, and once a month my own, personal, concierge emails me, or texts me, (or both, because I forget things!) a reminder to review my cart before a monthly shipment. And some months, I just skip a shipment because I have a stack of 4 bottles of Method Toilet Bowl Cleaners (seriously. The best stuff ever. But I won’t clean four bottles worth of toilets this month–I hope!).

I can set my cart to be as automated as I want! And my kind concierge lets me know of products she thinks I will love.

But mostly, I’m just glad that I don’t run out of dish soap. Ever.

If your are super  organized and never run out of dish soap–you can stop reading now.

Peppermint Mrs. Meyers

This year, Grove Collaborative treated us to a new Mrs. Meyer’s Holiday Set — and they want to send one to you for free, too! The set includes a Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap, Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface spray and the Grove Collaborative Bubble Up.

My kids have been fighting over who gets to use this Bubble Up to do the dishes! It’s fun to pump the dispenser and make lots of bubbles, and the brush is easy to hold when you’re really scrubbing baked-on cheese off that casserole dish.

When the dishes are done, a quick wipe down with the multi-surface spray gets the counters and sink sparkling clean!

My husband and kids agree that these Mrs. Meyer’s Peppermint soaps smell good enough to eat! It reminds me of the peppermint bark the ladies at our church in Minnesota used to make, and I’m grateful that it’s safe for my family. The soaps also come in Orange Clove, which was a favorite in our house last winter. I can’t wait to grab a few bottles for our other bathrooms and laundry room with my next Grove shipment.

If you’re not familiar with Grove Collaborative, it’s a subscription service that makes creating a healthy, beautiful home effortless and affordable. I can choose my favorite products from brands like Mrs. Meyer’s, Seventh Generation, and Method, and Grove delivers them right to my doorstep, on my schedule.

Here’s what I’ve discovered after using Grove: When my kids get to help choose the products and scents we use, they’re much more willing to help clean! They actually get excited when they see the Grove box sitting on our porch. It’s like Christmas for them (and me!).

When you sign up for Grove Collaborative using my link, you’ll get the Mrs. Meyer’s Holiday set for free + free shipping. If you’re already a customer, you’ll get 50% off of the brand new and amazing Grove Collaborative Bubble Up. Don’t forget to sign up for the free VIP trial, too. Not only is the free shipping amazing, you’ll get perks like free gifts, price matching, and personal customer service.

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Grove only has a limited number of sets available and the offer ends November 21, so grab yours now! Here’s how it works:

1. Sign up for Grove Collaborative here . You’ll receive the Mrs. Meyer’s offer for free when you sign up! If you’re already a customer, you’ll receive the Grove Collaborative Bubble Up for 50% off.

2. Answer 4 quick questions about your home that Grove Collaborative will then use to customize your first basket — this takes under 30 seconds!

3. Once you’ve answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your household needs by adding or removing items.

4. To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box.

5. You made it! Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

Here is an example of what you can place in your cart to get to the $20 minimum required to get this great deal! (And yes, that toilet cleaner is the BEST!)

Here is an example of what you can place in your cart to get to the $20 minimum required to get this great deal! (And yes, that toilet cleaner is the BEST!)

Let me know which scent you choose! I just know you will love Mrs. Meyers AND Grove Collaborative as much as I do!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links–that means, if you purchase something from these links, I will get a little money in return. It does NOT cost you a cent more, and it will keep me in coffee and wine for another day! Since this is a special offer through my site, you can visit Grove Collaborative on your own, and shop (and I hope you do), but unless you go through my links, you will not get this special offer. So, shopping through this link benefits us both! And THAT is in the spirit of full disclosure!

 

 

 

 

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